Vasundhara Raje’s fading halo

The people feel that the daughter of Rajputs and daughter-in-law of Jats is working only for these two castes. The ideology of the RSS is ruling the roost in the state. A programme is in place to open Saraswati temples in government schools. Scholars are being persuaded to fall in line with religious beliefs. Dalits and OBCs have been marginalized. The opium of religion is being used to intoxicate people

Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje government completes a year in office in December 2014. This government was elected with a huge majority, courtesy of the Modi wave. Raje got more swagger in her stride after BJP’s Mission-25 (win in all the 25 constituencies) was accomplished in the Lok Sabha elections.

Chief minister Raje toured the state as part of the Sarkar Apke Dwar (Government at Your Doorstep) campaign recently. She visited villages, where she heard the problems of the residents and promised redressal of their problems. Panchayat elections, due in January next year, are a sort of acid test for the government. Not long ago, the Congress annexed three of the four assembly constituencies that went to the by-polls.

Ironically, the chief minister is in charge of 47 departments. This unprecedented centralization of power is not at all conducive to good governance. The people feel that the daughter of Rajputs and daughter-in-law of Jats is working only for these two castes. The ideology of the RSS is ruling the roost in the state. A programme is in place to open Saraswati temples in government schools. Scholars are being persuaded to fall in line with religious beliefs. Dalits and OBCs have been marginalized. The opium of religion is being used to intoxicate people. The government is widely perceived as having a soft corner for sycophants. Senior leaders like Nandlal Meena touch the feet of the chief minister.

The government’s prestige is at stake for more than one reason. Not a day passes without one or the other scam coming to the fore. The government is reversing its own decisions. For instance, in its election manifesto, the ruling party had promised that 15 lakh jobs would be created in the government. It is now being said that in 2006 itself, Vasundhara Raje had launched the Vidhyarthi Mitra (friend of students) scheme under which 26,000 youths were provided jobs and that the Congress government retained their services. Now, with a court ruling that these appointments were illegal, the government is washing its hands of the programme. It is telling the beneficiaries that their appointments were made without any basis.

The Vidhan Sabha gave its nod to a new Land Acquisition Act but the farmers were not consulted before drafting the new law. The new law, in many respects, is anti-farmer. Some time ago, farmers held a demonstration before the Vidhan Sabha under the leadership of Medha Patkar to register their protest over the new law.

The halo that had been created by making promises and announcing noble intentions in the initial months of the formation of the government is now fading. Vasundhara Raje can no longer bank only on the Modi wave. In the Panchayat elections, she would have to demonstrate that she can stand on her own feet. But that seems a distant possibility.

Published in the December 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine


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